Interviewer: What are the benefits to hiring an attorney for an expungement?
Lauren Scardella: Because expungements are very, very complicated. They require getting certain documents from the courts after which you have to draft a petition, which has to include specific language which can be confusing. It then has to be mailed by certified mail to a large number of agencies then at the end, you have to send things out again by certified mail.
Expungement in New Jersey is an Extraordinarily Complicated Process
I’ve talked to countless people who said “I tried to do my expungement by myself and I just can’t figure it out” or, “It was denied because I did it wrong. Can you help me?” It’s just extraordinarily complicated for a lay person to do.
Common Mistakes Detrimental to a Favorable Resolution in an Expungement
Interviewer: Are there any “do’s and don’ts” of expungements?
Lauren Scardella: Sure. People do need to be patient because it is a long process. I think another do is to start early if you think you’re going to want an expungement because you want to get a professional license or go to school or something, think ahead because again, it is a long process. And unfortunately, the one thing we’re not really able to do is make it go any faster. The converse of that is don’t wait until the last minute to call an attorney and get the process started.
It is Important to Actively Coordinate With Your Attorney for a Speedy Resolution
Other than that, stay in communication with us, because there are things that we need you to sign or there’s information that we need from you and if we can’t reach you, the process just goes that much more slowly. Of course, the biggest don’t would be don’t get in trouble again. The expungement is really worth anything if you just go out and get yourself a brand new criminal record.
Providing Organized Information to an Attorney Helps the Expungement Process
Interviewer: So, this is just kind of one of those things that a client has to be pretty cooperative with their attorney in terms of communication and being there to answer any questions, right?
Lauren Scardella: Yes. That really only takes place in the beginning when we’re trying to get information from them about where they’ve been convicted or approximately when it happened, and if they have any of the old complaint numbers, etc. We can get those things from the court but it’s easier for the courts to find their records if we have the complaint number rather than just somebody’s social security number or date of birth. So, another do is to stay organized because it helps us, it does make the process go faster in the beginning if you’ve got the information that we need, which of course helps to speed the overall process which means you can hopefully get your expungement sooner.